It depends upon what you want and expect. My mother LOVED young cockerels and called them "fryers". She told me to fetch them at 13-15 weeks while still tender. Small carcass, but that is what she wanted. Others prefer to allow them to "fatten up" and wait until 18 weeks. The longer you wait to take them, the longer you need to rest the meat in a cooler after butchering and before freezing. Slooooooow cook or pressure cook an older bird.
Thanks so much! these are the first that we actually have to eat we have been planning the last 5 years to do this is with our birds then we get a predator visit and lose the flock..
For instance last September i let my 27 girls and my rooster out to free range around 1:30 in the afternoon i went to the store come back it is 2:15 or so and i see a fox running down the road with my cat i run out back there is another fox out there i lost 25 hens that day they left my rooster and 2 hens and that type of thing has happened the last 5 years but the only time it happens is if we leave the coop run open or if there out free ranging to early in the morning last year was weird cause it was in the mid afternoon.
This guy was a 20 week old Barred Plymouth Rock. He was a great hen protector, but he wouldn't stop attacking the kids. He dressed at around 4 1/2 lbs. His dark meat was ridiculously good. It reminded me of rich, turkey dark meat without all the tendons. Still a skinny breast, but amazing.